Photo Series Reminds Parents There's No Such Thing As ‘Perfect’

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Image via Maria Manco

Sham of the Perfect shares photos that show what life with kids really looks like

Social media has brought parents closer together than ever before, but it’s also given us quite a few more avenues for comparing ourselves to one another. We get to see how other people parent, what they do, how they live — and it’s all too easy to look at these flawlessly curated lives and feel bad for not giving your children the “perfect” childhood you see reflected in your Instagram feeds.

That’s where Sham of the Perfect comes in.

Sham of the Perfect is a photography project started by photographers and moms Erika Roa, Lacey Monroe, and Natasha Kelly. Together, they tell the Huffington Post, they’re committed to documenting and sharing “the messes, tantrums, unadulterated joy, and memorable moments that happen when you aren’t busy trying to make everything look perfect.”

The moms use Facebook, Instagram, and their blog to share photos — both their own and those submitted by 15 other contributors — that show the reality of family life. Whether it’s dishes and papers strewn about the dining room table or a baby in diapers making mischief on a messy living room floor, the photos they share with their followers are about showcasing slices of life we all recognize.

Roa, Monroe, and Kelly came up with the idea for the project in 2014, after taking the same online photography course in visual storytelling. They wanted to work together on a collaborative project, and decided the best, most honest thing they could possible show was a glimpse into their real lives.

“We were tired of seeing photos that only show happy smiling clean children in immaculate interiors or sun-drenched fields during golden hour,” Monroe told the Huffington Post. “We knew that was not what our lives looked like and we thought there would be others out there who also yearned for more honest depictions of family life.”

They say comparison is the thief of joy, and that’s absolutely true in my experience as a parent. I get so frustrated with the dirty dishes and piles of laundry, and it only makes me feel worse when I check out what’s happening on social media and see people neatly baking cookies with infants in an all white kitchen full of designer decor. I mean, really? My kid hurled an open container of garlic powder at me while I was cooking dinner last night, and our kitchen is going to stink for a week. Fuck your clean countertops and crisp white apron.

The great thing about Sham of the Perfect is not just the way these images show normal, every day scenes, but also that they’re still incredibly beautiful, even without being staged. As parents, we beat ourselves up for not being perfect. We think our lives would be better or richer or fuller if only we, too, could find time to breastfeed in a field of wildflowers at sunset before driving home to our beautifully decorated tiny home and crafting with our well-dressed children.

In reality, the life we have is more than good enough, and it’s the only one we get, so we better start enjoying it and stop being so damn focused on faking perfection.

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